A military working dog and its handler live together, eat together, play together, sleep together, and risk their lives for each other every day.
Below are some, true accounts that tell of the bonds the handlers had/have with their dogs, and how the dogs – as important as they were and still are on missions — are just as essential for the morale of the troops. Something, that all dog owners will understand.
Northern Ireland border, Clogher, County Tyrone, 23rd July 1973
Corporal Bryan Criddle RAVC was injured when an IRA bomb, hidden in a milk churn, was detonated remotely. He died due to head injuries four days later. His dog, Jason, was blown 30 feet in the air but survived.
Northern Ireland, Kilkeel, 28th May 1986
Corporal Brian Brown QGM from Ballynahinch was a member of 3 UND (Ulster Defence Regiment) and had been awarded the Queen’s Gallantry Medal for his service in Northan Irland. He lost his life on 28th May 1986 when a bomb exploded at a garage in Kilkeel. Oliver, his search dog, was also killed in the blast. The ashes of the faithful Yellow Labrador were buried with his master.
Northern Ireland, Crossmaglem, 21st May 1988
Corporal Derek Hayes of the Royal Pioneer Corps died with his Army search dog Ben, when an IRA booby trap bomb exploded. Cpl Hayes and Ben were on patrol in Crossmaglen when they were asked to investigate a partly hidden box in a ditch but as they approached the device exploded, killing them both. The ashes of the faithful Yellow Labrador were buried alongside the soldier.
Northern Ireland, Belfast, 25th May 1991
Corporal Terry “Geordie” O Neil was the victim of a “coffee-jar “bomb (Semtex, nails, bolts and ball bearings) He was killed instantly. Darren Swifty Swift, his fellow handler, standing alongside him, lost both legs in the attack, which took place as the two soldiers exercised their dogs in the yard of the Army Dog Unit. Several dogs were injured in the blast, including Geordies’s dog, Blue, and Swifty’s dog, Troy.
Lance Corporal Kenneth Rowe and military dog Sasha, Afghanistan 24th July 2008
The highest military honour awarded to animals has been given to Sasha, a yellow Labrador army dog, who was killed on active service Afghanistan. Sasha was four years old when she died alongside her handle, both were caught in a Taliban ambush.
Sasha the army dog was trained to sniff out weapons and went ahead on sorties to make routes safe for patrols.
Lance Corporal Liam Taske, Afghanistan, 1st March 2011
Lance Corporal Liam Taske was killed in action and his military working dog Theo died of seizure just hours later. Their names appear together on the memorial to Afghanistan’s fallen dog soldiers.
The names of these two soldiers appear together on a memorial to Afghanistan’s fallen dog soldiers, Soldiers first, dog lovers always — Soldier and dog bound for life and beyond.
The memorial to the fallen dog soldiers is a lovingly carved wooden paw linked with metal chains was created by members of the RAVC (Royal Army Veterinary Corps) in honour of their own. It bares the names of the two brave soldiers above and their loyal bomb dogs.
For the soldiers family’s there must have been some comfort in knowing that when they fell they had their best friend at their side.